DFA is excited to introduce our three new national Fellows! Throughout the year they will be mentoring studios to build student leadership and help implement projects as well as working on organizational projects to grow our community and improve DFA inside and out!

Brandon_RMBrandon Rivera-Melo
2014 Fellow, Northwestern University ’13

Education
BS in Biomedical Engineering, Psychology
Certificates in Design, Entrepreneurship, Northwestern University

Past Positions
Product Development Intern for SwipeSense LLC
Industrial Design Intern for Portapure LLC

Inspired by
Adventure Time, my cousin Enero, and the Google =)

What does a leader of innovation mean to you?
It means trial by fire! For me being a leader of innovation means more than just being willing to fail, but actually failing. I like what Conan has to say about failure too – “though you should not fear failure, you should do your very best to avoid it.” Nietzsche famously said ‘Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ But what he failed to stress is that it almost kills you. Disappointment stings and, for driven, successful people like yourselves it is disorienting. What Nietzsche should have said is ‘Whatever doesn’t kill you, makes you watch a lot of Cartoon Network and drink mid-price Chardonnay at 11 in the morning.'” That string is motivational – I hold onto it at a distance.

What if your favorite DFA moment?
That’s easy. It was when my first team lead “tapped” me to sit in on a DFA leadership meeting. I had stayed after one of our meetings just working on my computer and lost track of what was happening around me. Our team leaders were known as coaches at that time, and mine was Thea Klein-Mayer =) She noticed how absorbed I got into the process and encouraged to me come along, and of course, I went.

What do you hope to achieve as a DFA Fellow?
First, I want to synthesize communication of my experiential wisdom to current and future DFA students (words! I know). When I think about this, I think about a quote from Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” And second, if I cannot personally establish community partners for studios around the country, I want to make that second nature for future leaders. Never underestimate the importance of a strong community partner.

SarahSarah Kurland
2014 Fellow, Cornell University ’14

Education
BS in Policy Analysis and Management, Cornell University

Past Positions
Communications Specialist, Engaged Learning + Research
Sustainability Office Intern, University Hospitals
Garden Educator/Playworker, Ithaca Children’s Garden

Inspired by
Dreamers who become doers, Humans of New York, people watching, This American Life, sunsets (corny, but oh well)

What does a leader of innovation mean to you?
To me, this is where leadership, design and implementation meet. This means that a leader of innovation must be a strong leader in the literal sense (empathetic, humble, driven, visionary) but also must be a leader of thought and revolution. The leader must see what is missing in the world and work to fill that hole using the design process. But only until that leader implements the solution does that leader become a true leader of innovation.

What is your favorite DFA moment?
If was during my first day as a DFAer at Cornell my sophomore year. I remember doing a quick prototype workshop using play-doh, pipe cleaners, popsicle sticks (you know, the works) and it was in that exercise that I completely surprised myself with my creative abilities. As a Policy Analysis and Management major, I really never got the chance to think completely outside the box and let go. I guess I just had never really tapped into my creative “reserves.” I left that day feeling energized and excited to have DFA as a creative outlet for the rest of my Cornell career.

What do you hope to achiever as a DFA Fellow? 
I hope to be a prototype for the local DFA fellowship pilot program based at Cornell. I want to ensure after much iteration and documentation, I discover the ways to make this program a replicable one to ensure its sustainability. I hope to bring a summer studio equivalent to Cornell. I hope to be a sponge so I can absorb and learn best practices in human-centered design, mentorship, innovation, work ethic, workshop facilitation, design thinking, proactivity and more!

 

Stacy

Stacy Klingbeil
2014 Fellow, Northwestern University ’13

Education
MS in Engineering Design and Innovation, Northwestern University
BS in Engineering Management, Miami University

Past Positions
Instructor of Engineering Design Studio, Center for Talent Development
Strategic Associate, Segal Design Institute
Innovation Institute Scholar, ThinkImpact

Inspired by
My 3 year old niece, Harper, and her playful imagination.

What does a leader of innovation mean to you?
It means optimism, empathy, humility and the willingness to get out of your comfort zone to pursue your passion.

What is your favorite DFA moment?
My first DFA moment seeing the final presentations of Northwestern Summer Studio was a big revelation about the dedication of individual studio teams to the larger supportive, evolving and passionate DFA community.

What do you hope to achieve as a DFA Fellow? 
I hope to help teams scope, tackle and implement projects they’re truly excited about, develop a new professional family, document my process (especially my failures), and to build upon all of the hard work it took to get DFA where it is today!